Incumbent Paul Shepherd faces challenger Phil Hart, a former Idaho Legislator, in the upcoming Republican primary.
Primary elections are May 15. No other parties have filed candidates in this race, nor have any write-ins. District 7 includes Idaho, Clearwater, Shoshone and a portion of Bonner counties.
The Idaho County Free Press solicited information from each of the candidates concerning their qualifications and issues of the district.
“I was encouraged to run by the presidency of Donald Trump,” said Phil Hart, “and I see the next two years as a unique opportunity to restore our constitutional provisions of limited government.”
Hart, of Kellogg, is a structural engineer. He served in the Idaho Legislature from 2004 until 2012 and, according to Hart, had a reputation in the legislature as a constitutionalist and was known to carry with him a dog-eared and highlighted copy of the Constitution everywhere he went.
According to Hart, both President Trump (’68) and himself (’84) are graduates of the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania. He said knowing how hard President Trump had to have worked in school gives him additional confidence that we will see great things from him as president.
“Frankly, this was my main motivation for running. I think Donald Trump is going to cause us to redefine how we do government in America, and I want to be part of that discussion when it happens.”
Hart authored a recent article, “Uncle Sam is Biggest Brother” where he points out the U.S. government “is the biggest government the human race has ever seen on Planet Earth.” Concerned about the ongoing growth of the Idaho budget, even under Republican control, Hart said his top priority will be to author legislation that will roll back the growth of state government.
Hart, an MSHA certified open-pit miner, wants to enhance the traditional Idaho industry sectors that depend on natural resources. Hart believes the public is to be steward of natural resources, protecting them for future generations. “That means we use our natural resources, but we don’t abuse them,” he said.
As a legislator, Hart thinks his best accomplishment was authoring House Bill 343 in the 2011 session, the Wolf Emergency Bill. This provided for the governor to declare a wolf emergency and take management of the wolves away from the federal government, which at the time had listed the wolves on the Endangered Species List. Three days after the legislature sent Hart’s bill to the governor’s desk for his signature, Congress delisted the wolves, which effectively turned over management of the wolves to the state government. He said Congress even restricted the jurisdiction of the federal courts to hear cases on the issue.
“I did enough research on emergency declarations to know that any court challenge to a State of Idaho Wolf Emergency Declaration would lose in court,” he said, “as it is impossible to define what is and is not an ‘emergency’. I think this is why Congress rushed to effectively nullify my bill, so that we would not have that showdown.”
Paul E. Shepherd
“The communities throughout District 7 share many of the same concerns on issues such as education, health and welfare, transportation and resources,” said Paul Shepherd.
“The livelihood of the citizens of District 7 is dependent on a wisely balanced and continued use of our basic resources – mining, timber, agriculture and recreation. I believe man can live in balance with nature and utilize those resources so necessary for our way of life. It is as foolhardy to overcompensate toward total non-use of our resources as it is to move toward complete destruction without conservation and renewal. If re-elected to the Idaho Legislature, I shall continue to work towards this balance.”
Shepherd said the federal government is exerting powerful mandates onto state governments as never before, further infringing on citizens individual rights and plunging future generations into a morass of debt. Government bureaucracy and regulations are a great hindrance towards creating jobs in the private sector.
“I believe that prosperity and a high standard of living comes from efficient productivity and conservation, that excessive government hampers efficiency, reduces productivity and causes waste,” he said. “The best chance to affect improvement in the federal government is through a strong states rights movement.”
According to Shepherd, “Citizens are demanding government at all levels be effective and efficient. As a state legislator, I take those two words and the Constitution as a guideline when contemplating any legislation that is introduced.”
A third generation Idahoan, Shepherd lives in Riggins and is self-employed: Shepherd Sawmill & Log Homes, Inc. He has served as director of the Salmon River Chamber of Commerce, Salmon River Cowboys Association, Riggins Gem Committee and Salmon River Jet Boat Races.
He is currently serving his sixth term as house representative, and he sits on the education, resource and conservation, and transportation committees. He also serves on both the Western Forestry Legislative Task Force and the Western States Transportation Alliance.